Over Thanksgiving, I had a Make and Break marathon. I made Lavender and Falling for You soaps, two types of lotions bars, and peppermint and plain lip balms. Instead of my usual soap molds, I decided to use a loaf mold. Overall, I’m pleased with the results, but I’ve had to battle my OCD tendencies, because loaf molds don’t produce perfectly shaped bars of soap – at least not for me. And that’s OK for at least a few reasons. First of all, it’s a bar of soap. It’s not going to be perfect after the first use. Second of all, an imperfectly-shaped, handcrafted bar of soap has a certain amount of rustic charm. Third, making a loaf of soap is super easy. And fourth, cutting the bars is also super easy, a little nerve-wracking and a lot of fun.
I bought a heavy-duty loaf mold and olive oil melt-and-pour soap at Michael’s. I also got a curvy cutter, because that’s how you get fancy-looking soap bars from a loaf of soap.
The packaging on the loaf mold said it would produce a 2-3 pound soap block. So, I cut up a 2-lb package of the melt and pour soap and commenced to melting the soap on the stove top. For both the Lavender soap and the Falling for You soap, I simply doubled the amount of essential oils and dried lavender buds/citrus peels. I used the same process for both batches.
After pouring the melted soap, Lavender essential oil and dried lavender buds into the loaf mold, I noticed that 2 lbs of soap didn’t quite fill the loaf mold to the top. And I remembered, the packaging said it would produce a 2-3 pound soap block.
I let the soap set overnight, even though the packaging said it would set in an hour in the refrigerator. Just a personal preference. The next morning was like Christmas to me. Getting the soap out of the mold was like trying to unwrap a present wrapped by a sadistic friend or relative. You know the type who uses almost as much tape as wrapping paper? I thought the soap block would just pop out of the mold, like the silicon molds I use. I tried pulling at the sides, beating on the bottom of loaf mold. And then, somehow, it came to me, and I can’t believe I’m sharing this, but I can laugh about it now. I unscrewed the large nuts and bolts on either side, and the loaf mold came of the soap block, one side at a time. The packaging directions call this dis-assembling the mold.
After freeing the soap from the mold, I was dismayed to find that because I hadn’t filled the mold to the top, slicing the bars conventionally would make for very narrow bars of soap. So, I decided to use my straight edge soap slicer and slice four pieces and then slice those pieces horizontally, making 8 bars of soap that ranged in weight from 3.3-4.2 ounces. Quite a variation, but usable. Another variation was the amount of dried lavender buds per bar. The buds floated to the top, for the most part, despite my attempts to get them to distribute evenly. Again, usable, and a choice – do you want more buds or less buds?
Determined to have thicker bars of soap the next try, I filled the mold to the top and let it set overnight. Filling it to the top took 2 1/2 lbs of melt-and-pour soap. I poured the excess into a soap mold, which was enough for a small bar. The next morning, I noticed a slight dip in the center of the soap block, which reminded me of making lip balm. When lip balm is cooling, it will cave in a bit at the top of the tube, and you simply add a bit more of the melted ingredients as the tube is setting to level off the top of the tube. A technique I’m going to try the next time I use the loaf mold. I started hearing the song, “Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain”, in my brain.
After removing the mold, much more easily this time, I used the curvy edge cutter and sliced 9 bars of soap, approximately 1-inch thick each. The average weight of the Falling for You bars of soap was 4 ounces. I was dismayed, again, but this time for a different reason. Some of the bars had a crescent-shaped edge, due to the dip in the dried soap block. I wrestled with whether to remove the imperfect edges, in order to make more rectangular shaped bars. I looked on etsy and found all sorts of irregularly-shaped handcrafted bars of soap. So, for that reason and wanting to ensure that friends and customers received as much of a bar of Falling for You soap as possible, I decided to go with the imperfect shape.
While waiting for some Oils & Spoils stickers from vistaprint, I wrapped the soap bars and other goodies in tissue. Plastic wrap can also be used to preserve the freshness or scent of the bars.
Takeaways from my first attempts making soap using a loaf mold? Read the instructions on the packaging for easier removal of the soap block. Trust the packaging when it says the mold will make 2-3 lbs of soap. The soap loaf instructions state, “A great technique you’ll use over and over.” Indeed, I will. And next time, I’m not loafing around.
Oils & Spoils Updates
Oils& Spoils on Etsy: Check out the soaps featured in this post and other goodies from my Make and Break weekend on Oils & Spoils Etsy page.
December Young Living Essential Oils promotions are always awesome, but this December’s promos (freebies) are especially exciting. Depending on your order, you may receive a free bottle of Excite, a new essential oil available exclusively as part of this month’s promos. Click on the December Promos link to find out more.
Want to Get Started with Essential Oils? Check out this Oils & Spoils blog.